Hello! I'm Julie James, an herbalist based in Long Beach, CA. I am a child of Southern California, born and raised in this area, tramping through the hills, coastlines and mountains of this region for a half a century now. The mountains of Southern California are where I first learned deep plant love, and they are still the place where I feel the most at home.
I have been teaching about holistic healing since the mid-80's, though at that time my focus was on the complex chemistry of nutrition; I loved plants, but I geeked out on chemistry, on the isolated compounds and how they worked in our bodies. Then, an epiphany: I could geek out on PLANT CHEMISTRY! And as plants, as I so often tell my students, are far, far better chemists than we humans could ever hope to be, I was in nerdy heaven, learning about polysaccharides and lipids and glycosides and alkaloids and anthocyanins and OH! So much beauty and complexity. A never-ending life journey, learning about plant compounds. This is why, when you come to my classes, you will get a healthy dose of chemistry and science on which to build your understanding. It's exceptionally cool stuff, it's gorgeous and mind-expanding and life-changing. This was the path my feet firmly and joyfully began to walk: Teaching how to be in relationship with the plants with an emphasis on the science--as a skeptic and an atheist, I needed this foundation from which to grow. And what I found was that with that underpinning of logic, I could then venture into the "woowoo": the plant spirit medicine, the energetics, the devas and fairies and tricksters that inhabit the plants and with which we play and learn and sometimes wrestle. This blend of science and magic, of awe and intellect, has informed my learning and my teaching and my practice.
And as I began to teach and learn, still in the midst of the natural foods industry, where I had managed and owned health food stores for three decades, I began to also see a disconnect between the idea of plants as "Medicine of The People", and the reality of the herbal and natural products industry. Because it IS an industry: mega-corporations have bought out the largest natural foods manufacturers, villains like Monsanto and Cargill and Bayer are in bed with marketers and lobbyists, and the concept of natural healing has been firmly placed within the confines of a Whole Foods market: expensive, elitist, extracted and standardized and purified and concentrated and marketed (marketing, you'll find, is one of my big four-letter words) right out of the hands of "The People". Now, herbs were not the plants that grew in the garden or the hills, they were commodities. Herbal medicines were something created in a lab, by Those Who Knew More Than You Do, and were no longer accessible and understandable by mere humans.
And so I changed. My goals focused on accessibility: How to make herbs available to the widest array of folks who need them. How to teach and empower people to grow, harvest and create their own medicines. Taking the power away from the corporations and placing it right where it should have been all the time: with The People.
And this is where YOU come in. If you're here, you may have attended a class or gathering, or are interested in doing so. You might be needing a consultation, or just need to spend time with the plants. However you feel that you need me to serve you, I am here, ready to get your hands dirty, your belly filled, your mind blown, your soul healed, your body nourished. Because the plants will do all of that and more, and it is my utter joy to show you how. I'll throw some chemistry and botany and physiology your way, because that is what I DO, but if science is not your thing, you are free to set that aside, because ultimately, it is you who decides how and what you need to learn. I am one teacher that you might have on your journey, but I will not be the only one. And perhaps I will not be the teacher for you: I don't teach certain subjects that I am not passionate about or, lets face it, believe in. And I am not a soft-spoken, gentle soul. I am loud, passionate, boisterous, and I have quite a lexicon of foul language at my disposal which I sprinkle into my classes readily and unapologetically. I am a stalwart socialist liberal justice-loving anti-oppressive, anti-racist, feminist, opinionated soul. I won't teach you "shamanic" or appropriative practices best left to folks from those cultures. I don't do prayer or much spiritual stuff, and I will go off on a rant if you ask me about Cleansing and Detox programs, Multi-level marketing, or David Wolfe. If those are steps in your path, then off you go with my blessings, I can point you towards other teachers who can fill your needs there, but it won't be me.
But if you're up to learn, and laugh (we laugh A LOT in my classes), to make messes and memories and to overthrow icons and norms and the status quo, then I may just be the gal for you.